call me suspicious, but i'm intrigued by the fact that there were no actual members of the court present at the birth of Henry Charles Ferdinand Marie Dieudonné D’Artois, Duc de Bordeaux, and later on self styled comte de Chambord.
He was born at 2.35 am on 29th Sept 1820...which is seven and a half months after his father was assassinated on 14th February, killed by a worker who wanted to wipe out the Bourbon family line by the way. So at the moment of birth the widowed Duchesse of Berry had sent everyone home for the night, "don't mind me, it's just indigestion" sort of thing, so when young Henry slithered into the world and saw the light of day they had to call some guards in to witness (after) the fact.
Guards! Guards! here's a little something towards your retirement funds, now get in there and witness...was he still actually attached to his mother by the umbilical cord i wonder ?
There's actually no truth to the story that the Duchesse de Berry gave birth with no witnesses, that was a story concocted by the Orléanistes to cast doubt on Chambord's legitimacy. As he grew, his resemblance to his father quelled that rumor.
Anyway he really seems to have been the long hoped for miracle child...and France rejoiced.
Yes, because he assured the continuance of the Bourbon dynasty. His uncle the Dauphin and his wife Marie Thérèse, only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, were childless. Had the child been a girl the situation would have been very different.
However, on 2 August 1830, in response to the July Revolution, Henri's grandfather, Charles X, abdicated, and stranger still twenty minutes later Charles' elder son Louis Antoine, duc d'Angoulême, said "i'm outta here" and also abdicated in favor of the young duc de Bordeaux....what did they know that they weren't letting on to the 10 year old child who they had just dumped in it....most bizarre. Anyway Louis Philippe of Orléans, as Lieutenant général du royaume, was supposed to proclaim the young child Henri as Henri V, King of France and of Navarre, but deliberately did not do so.
As a consequence, after seven days, during which legitimist monarchists considered that Henri had been the rightful monarch of France, the National Assembly decreed that the throne should pass to Louis Philippe, who was proclaimed King of the French on 9 August.
There's a little more to the story than that, details which make it less strange. The goal of the July Revolution was to force Charles X from the throne, skip the Dauphin and Bordeaux altogether, and install the Duc d'Orléans as king in their stead. Orléans wasn't exactly torn between his duty to the King (as Lieutenant of the Kingdom) and his own ambitions; he was very much his father's son and coveted the throne for himself. But he had to play his hand close to the vest. In response, Charles X abdicated, making the Dauphin king (Louis XIX) for the next twenty minutes while his own abdication statement was prepared, passing the crown to the child Bordeaux, who at that moment became Henri V, King of France and Navarre, the Lieutenant's proclamation and the National Assembly's consent notwithstanding (which is why Orléans, once installed on the throne, became Louis-Philippe I, King of the French
rather than King of France and Navarre
, which was determined by primogeniture). It was basically a dare to Orléans to show his true colors - it wasn't the mean old Charles X or the uppity Dauphin he'd have to publicly betray, but an innocent child. Well, they bet and lost as Orléans had no scruples. The July Monarchy was born, and would survive eighteen years before the French tired of him as well and sent him packing to England.
With the death of old Charles X his grandfather in 1836, and of his uncle in 1844, Henri became the genealogically senior claimant to the French throne. His supporters were called Legitimists to distinguish them from the Orléanists, the supporters of the family of Louis Philippe.
Nearly 30 years later when things got ironed out a bit and our Henri was pushed forward with his C.V. in hand to apply again for the job title of "King of France", Henri the comte de Chambord blew it big style. He was by then pretender for both the legitimists and the Orléanists, and the restoration of monarchy in France seemed to be a close possibility.....the party was being prepared and expectations were high when however, Henri insisted that he would only accept the crown on condition that France abandon its tricolour flag and return to the use of the white fleur de lys flag. That was a big no-no and his job application was binned. No party.
Well, yes and no. In 1867, when the Chambords were living in exile at Frohsdorf in Austria, the Orléans princes were feeling a bit unloved, having lost both their throne and their rank in the succession to the legitimate royal house. The Orléaniste Party was also at a low point, politically speaking. The Comte de Paris, head of the House of Orléans, saw an opportunity to raise the profile of his family. He approached the Comte de Chambord with an offer of reconciliation, to submit to him as the Head of the Royal House of France and to join the Orléaniste and Légitimiste parties into one political unit. By Paris' calculation, he, as the head of the only surviving "French" branch of the royal house, would one day succeed the childless Chambord. Chambord had other plans, however. According to the ancient lois fondamentales du royaume
the aîné" des Capétiens
was the King of France, and after himself, that person was a prince of the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon, Don Juan. While there was little love lost between Chambord and Don Juan, the latter's son and eventual heir, Don Carlos, was quite dear to him. Carlos was his wife's nephew, and he was married to Chambord's beloved niece, Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma. It was this couple for whom Chambord held parental feelings, and upon whom he wished the eventual succession to fall. So while Paris and his family were reconciled and resumed their rightful place in the Royal House of France, there was a stark difference of opinion as to where that "rightful place" was. According to the ancient lois fondamentales
, that position was dead last, behind the Spanish, Sicilian, and Parmesan branches of the House of Bourbon. The Count of Paris, being no dummy, took what he could get and bided his time.
In 1873 the combined Orléaniste and Légitimiste parties gained a majority of seats in the National Assembly, and France prepared for the restoration of Henri V (the coronation carriage was being built and the Faubourg Saint-Germain was already being fitted for court dress - it was that
imminent). This was make-or-break time for the Count of Paris. He wanted his succession rights added to the new constitution; if he did not get his way, the monarchist coalition would split and the hopes of the monarchists would be dashed. There were some other constitutional particulars that Chambord had problems with, but Chambord was not going to accept these terms. He said that after his death, the people of France would determine the succession (a play for populism). At that point all bets were off. Rather than take the fall for the rupture of the coalition, Chambord cited the matter of the drapeau blanc
as his reason for standing aside. In fact, he had already agreed that the Tricoleur
with the royal arms on the center white field would be the new national flag, while the traditional drapeau blanc
would serve as the king's personal standard. It provided him with a more "tragic" yet noble cover story than his desire to thwart the ambitions of the Orléans family.
His other big mistake was not making sure his beloved could bear them children...well you would wouldn't you...well he didn't and she couldn't...
you would think that after all this rigmarole that having a legitimate heir would be high on the list of things to get round to doing, but his chosen wife Maria Theresa the Princess of Modena had a problem with her uterus or more correctly her pelvis, which made it impossible to have sexual relations and therefore impossible to get pregnant. Oh and i mean "chosen" as in Henri's aunt chose her for him while he actually fancied the younger prettier sister more, but life's like that, he should have followed his instincts, if he had things would be a lot different now.......anyway he didn't, so when he died there was no son and heir.
Actually they didn't have fertility tests back then. I'm sure they determined that she was a virgin, however. And actually, the paternity problem was more than likely due to an injury sustained by Chambord himself, falling off a horse at the age of ten or thereabouts. Concerns expressed at that time were that he could wind up being infertile. And yes, while his first attraction was to the younger sister Beatrice, she didn't have eyes for him (she married Don Juan instead and became the mother of Don Carlos). Being the pious sort he also found the virtues of the older sister, Marie Thérèse, to be worthy qualities for a future Queen of France. She was plainer than her sister but not ugly by any means, and she worshipped him.
I find it all highly dubious.
Well, maybe after taking it all into consideration you won't feel that way.